Concern over availability of cheap alcohol

Women can buy weekly limit for 4.95
  • Deborah Condon

Women in Ireland can purchase 11 standard drinks - their weekly recommended limit - for just €4.95, Alcohol Action Ireland has said.

Men can purchase their weekly limit of 17 standard drinks for just €7.65.

A standard drink is half a pint of beer, a small (100ml) glass of wine or a pub measure of spirits. Women are recommended not to exceed 11 standard drinks per week, while men should not exceed 17, and both are recommended to have two or three alcohol-free days per week.

As part of its pre-Budget submission, AAI highlighted the fact that men and women can reach this recommended limit by spending very little money.

Its recent annual price survey found that cider was the cheapest type of alcohol available, with two supermarkets selling the drink at a cost of just 45c for one standard drink.

The next cheapest type of alcohol was beer, with one supermarket selling a brand at 47c per standard drink.

While wine and spirits were slightly more expensive, women could still purchase 11 standard drinks for just €6.16, while men could buy 17 drinks for €9.52.

The price survey was carried out in Dunnes Stores, Tesco, Spar, Lidl and Aldi in Dublin city in July.

AAI emphasised that ‘strong and cheap' drinks are the alcohol products favoured by the heaviest drinkers, ‘who generally seek to get as much alcohol as they can for as little money possible'.

However, these are also the people who are most at risk of alcohol-related illness and death.

Cheap drinks are also favoured by young people, who may not have much disposable income and have the highest prevalence of binge drinking.

Problem alcohol use costs Ireland around €2.35 billion per year, affecting areas such as health, work and crime.

AAI is calling on the Government to retain the current level of excise duty in Budget 2018 and to immediately enact the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill, which includes the introduction of minimum unit pricing.

"Ireland has a significant crisis with alcohol. Recent data regrettably demonstrates that our consumption level continues to rise. The central drivers of such high-risk consumption are price and availability and, in this context, given the scale of known alcohol related harms, it would be unwise now for our Government to consider any lowering of current excise regime," commented Eunan McKinney of AAI.

Meanwhile, the introduction of minimum unit pricing policy is seen by AAI as ‘a central instrument to aid a reduction of the levels of Ireland's alcohol consumption'.

"It will serve to make the strongest, cheapest alcohol in the off-trade less attractive to those vulnerable groups who select alcohol products on such a basis," the organisation said.

Budget 2018 will be announced on October 10.


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